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What it takes to be a winner

The Intersport La Valette Marathon is less than one month away. This week CORSA have spoken with the four winners of last year’s first edition who shared their experiences of running this fascinating race…

Rosalie Borg – Half Marathon Winner in 1:26.07

“Having been a sport enthusiast for a number of years, I finally plucked up the courage to race for the first time in a 21k road half marathon.

“Before, I used to look at distances past 10k as too long. When I used to hear people talk about a half marathon, in my mind it looked like something far fetched and that would need years to build for completion.

In reality, it is nothing like that. Being persistent and putting in a few kilometres in during the week, possibly best guided by a running coach, can help you complete a half marathon and eventually a full marathon. 

“Corsa came at the right time in my life. Passing through some turbulent circumstances in my private life, I chose to relieve my stress by going for regular jogs for my own mental and emotional wellbeing. It gave me a purpose to train and be consistent. 

“After every run I feel calmer, I take decisions better and also gives me great personal satisfaction. When I felt ready to face the challenge,  in my mind I always had the option of walking if I got too tired during the race, I took the decision to participate. My competitive side during the race gave me the necessary spark to give it my best shot and eventually went on to win the race.

“My coach planned my race well and despite seeing people run past me during the first part, I stuck to my plan as I didn’t want to become overwhelmed. The route was clear to the athletes and I broke it down in parts and set small targets along the way.

“The route was well marked and I knew exactly where the water stations were, because I do not like to carry water with me, even though this is recommended. 

“Until the start of the race I tend to be very nervous, but once the gun goes off, I forget everything and everyone and focus entirely on what I’m doing.

“I have countless conversations between me and myself during the race. I like to write a positive word on my wrist and whenever a negative thought props up or feels like giving up, I look at my wrist as a reminder as to why I’m doing the race and to try to focus on the positive rather than the negative. 

“For someone who is debating whether or not to apply for a race like this, my advice would be to go ahead and book because like that you immediately have a target.

“With or without you, the day of the race will come, however, you will feel more like a failure if you do not turn up when you have it booked, than when you don’t.

“Having a race booked gives you immediate motivation. The Corsa route is beautiful and thinking about it, would make you feel very successful knowing you would have ran/ walked from Sliema, all the way down to the Cottonera.

“The commemorative medal is also very nice and has a special meaning to me as it’s a reminder that you can achieve anything you set your mind to in life.”

Charlton Debono – Half Marathon Winner in 1:12.19

“Last year, I participated in and won the first edition of the Intersport Corsa Half Marathon.

“It was an amazing experience. The organization of the race was superb from start to finish. The route is challenging but certainly beautiful and enjoyable. I felt like a tourist in my own country visiting several historical places that you pass through along the route.

“The experience was memorable. I participated in several half marathons both locally and internationally and Corsa Half Marathon is certainly one I will remember.

“Words cannot describe the feeling of crossing that finish line after such a challenge!

“The atmosphere both at the start and the finish of the race was great. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete, I encourage athletes of all levels to take part in this race. I am sure that this year’s second edition will be another immense success.”

Matthew Xuereb – Full Marathon Winner in 2:48.24

“Winning the Corsa La Vallette Marathon during its debut edition on the local running calendar was huge for me.

“Crossing a finish line is always nice and rewarding, but I must admit that crossing that particular finish line got me feeling all emotional. It was definitely a mixture of emotions.

“The huge toll the marathon takes on the body, the accomplishment, the cheering from the crowd, finishing and winning my first official Marathon too.

“It was a lot to take in at one go. I remember that I started the Marathon quite conservatively and I was very cautious during the first couple of kilometres.

“In essence, I started picking up the pace around the mid-section of the race and recuperated several positions in the process. I then finally took the lead around the 27th kilometre.

“The Marathon is long, and anything can happen along the way, therefore, racing smart is always the safest option.

“I am listing here some pieces of advice for those taking on the Marathon/Half Marathon Challenge this coming February 5.

“First of all, trust the preparation you have done. Pre-plan and practice beforehand with the carbs/liquids you will be consuming during the race.

“Do your best to get in some quality sleep, especially in the days leading to the race.

“Do your own race at your own pace … you know yourself best. Believe in making all those early wakeup calls worthwhile and enjoy every stride.”

JEMIMA FARLEY – Marathon Winner in 2:50.58

“I love running marathons and 26.2 miles is definitely my favorite distance to race. 

“One of the best parts is the training and seeing yourself progress over the months leading up to it.

“Every marathon is different and brings its own specific challenges. 

“You can never take for granted how your body will react on the day.  The Corsa La Valette Marathon felt special. This was my first marathon in Malta since moving here in 2021. 

“Prior to that I had not ever been part of a running club so one of the things that made it so special was having so many members of our club racing and out supporting along the route. 

“It was so uplifting and made me smile every time I heard or saw a familiar face.  It’s a beautiful route with rolling hills and definitely doing some hill training beforehand was something I found helpful. 

“I have a number of mantras that I use and reflect on that get me through any tough times.

“I also always carry my own water and gels, a habit I have from trail running.  It ensures that I can fuel the same way I do during training. 

“Practicing your fueling plan before hand is so important so you don’t end up with any unexpected stomach issues along the way. 

“The last 10kms of a marathon are always the hardest for me mentally and when I start questioning ‘why am I doing this again?’ 

“I knew that my husband and my two sons where there waiting for me at the end and that was what was pushing me and driving me towards the finish line.

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